All-white male board? No IPO: Goldman – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The era of the white, all male board is coming to an end. Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO David Solomon issued the latest ultimatum on Thursday from Davos. Wall Street’s biggest underwriter of initial public offerings (IPO) in the US will no longer take a firm public in the US and Europe if it lacks a female or diverse director.

The mandate is the latest in a series of signals that non-diverse boards and management are unacceptable.

Investment management firms BlackRock Inc and State Street Global Advisors are voting against directors at companies without a female director. Public firms with all-male boards based in California now face a $100,000 fine under a new state law. “It’s pretty amazing,” said Fred Foulkes, a professor at the Boston University Questrom School of Business.

Last all-male board in S&P 500 appointed woman in July

It’s a seismic change. I was quite amazed and I wonder what’s going to happen at JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.”

The corporate board has become a rare bright spot for gender and racial diversity at the highest echelons of corporate America. Almost half of the open spots at S&P 500 companies went to women last year, and for the first time they made up more than a quarter of all directors. In July, the last all-male board in the S&P 500 appointed a woman.

Still, new boards are less diverse: Among the top 25 IPOs by value each year from 2014 through 2018, 10 companies had no female directors, said Malli Gero, co-founder and senior adviser to 2020 Women on Boards, an organisation that pushes for the Russell 3000 index to have at least 20% women directors on its boards. Last year, Goldman Sachs was hired to underwrite WeWork’s IPO, which only added a female director after its initial prospectus prompted criticism of its all-male board.

“Starting on July 1 in the US and Europe, we’re not going to take a company public unless there’s at least one diverse board candidate, with a focus on women,” Solomon told a news channel on Thursday.

He didn’t mention Asia, which continues to lag behind other regions when it comes to board diversity. Next year, the bank will raise the threshold to two diverse directors, Goldman said in a statement. The bank said the decision came after it learned more than 60 US and European companies in the last two years went public without a woman or person of colour on the board. Goldman Sachs has four women on its 11-member board.

Among the IPOs where Goldman Sachs was an underwriter over the last two years in the US and Europe, fewer than 10% currently have a board lacking a diverse candidate, the company said. Data was not available for the composition of those boards at the time of IPO, the company said.

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